Don't Be the Smartest Person in the Room

Leadership is About Your Journey, Not Your Destination

What Makes a Great Leader?

Exceptional leaders seem to have an innate knack for being a magnetic force and inspiring the people around them, don’t you think?

It might be simple to assume leaders become this way by having all the answers. Actually, some of the greatest leaders of our time are humble enough to admit that their inspiration is channeled from the ideas of the people they surround themselves with.

Learning to leverage and then elevate the strengths of a group is what truly sets an exceptional leader apart.

Don't Be the Smartest Person in the Room

I’m grateful that early in my career I had the opportunity to be humbled by some sage advice from my then HR Director: After an important business meeting, where I likely did a lot of the talking and not enough of the listening, my director came to me and told me,

“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.”

The advice hit home.

I recognized I was busy attempting to prove what I knew and in doing so, I stopped learning from the people around me. In that moment I recognized success is not all about having it all figured out ahead of time. In fact, the minute we assume we are the only one with all the right answers is the minute we stop learning—and inevitably apathy occurs.

Since then, I have spent much of my career learning to observe and absorb from the exceptional talent that surrounds me daily.

If my goal is to grow into an exceptional leader, it’s important that I have bodacious goals and stay in a constant cycle of self-reflection–learning to be one percent better than who I was yesterday. Continuous learning is not an endgame; it’s a journey.

by: Audra Cona, Chief People Officer

About Audra: A Florida transplant who spent many years of her youth moving all over the southeast US. She’s spent the last 20 years learning all aspects of what makes businesses tic from the inside and hint – it’s always the people! She loves talent strategy and talent solutions and it was a no-brainer for her to want to be part of the best big thing in Tampa Bay – working with Solution Publishing to show the world what we’re all about.